Facts to Know About Herbert Wigwe, as Access Bank Confirms His Death

Facts to Know About Herbert Wigwe, as Access Bank Confirms His Death

Sunday, February 11, 2024 2:43 pm

 Dr. Herbert Wigwe

Dr. Herbert Wigwe

*President Tinubu, Governors Sanwo-Olu, Oyebanji, Fubara also mourn him

The Board of Directors of Access Holdings Plc (‘the Company’) has announced the passing of Dr. Herbert Wigwe, CFR, the Company’s founding Group Chief Executive Officer and former Group Managing Director of its flagship subsidiary, Access Bank Plc (‘the Bank’). Dr. Wigwe died alongside his wife and son on Friday, February 9, 2024, in a helicopter accident in the United States of America.

The entire Access Family mourns the loss of Herbert, Doreen and Chizi. We extend our deep and sincere sympathies to his family and loved ones. Dr. Wigwe was a key driving force and a larger-than-life personality who brought his remarkable passion, energy, and experience to the transformation of the Access franchise since joining the Bank in 2002.

Commenting on the passage of Dr. Wigwe, Mr. Abubakar Jimoh, Chairman of Access Holdings said:

“The Access Family has suffered a major loss with the passing of Dr. Wigwe who was a great friend and fine gentleman. He had a prodigious intellect, admirable personal qualities, and vast business experience which he brought to bear on the Access Family and for which we owe him a debt of gratitude.

We remain confident that the Access Group will build further on Dr. Wigwe’s legacy of growth and operational excellence.”

Dr. Wigwe was instrumental in the growth of Access Bank, which he co-founded with his friend and business partner Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede. He took over as Access Bank Group CEO in 2014, focusing on the Bank’s expansion in Nigeria and Africa before taking the helm at Access Holdings in 2022. Under his leadership, Access Bank drove its African strategy to become Sub Saharan Africa’s largest retail bank by customer base.

Dr. Wigwe was a member of the Access Bank UK board as well as the board of the Nigerian Business Coalition Against AIDS (NiBUCAA). He has long been an advocate for the eradication of malaria in Africa, working with the Corporate Alliance on Malaria to support this objective. He also sat on the board of the Nigerian Mortgage Refinance Company and Friends Africa and was an honorary member of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria and a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria and Institute of Credit Administration.

A two-time winner of the African Banker of the Year award from the African Banker Awards, Dr. Wigwe was a passionate advocate of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which form the bedrock of Access Holdings’ growth strategy.

His academic credentials include a degree in Accounting from the University of Nigeria, an MA in Banking and Finance from the University College of North Wales (now Bangor University), and an MSc in Financial Economics from the University of London. He also completed the Harvard Business School Executive Management Program.

Dr. Wigwe recently founded Wigwe University, Africa’s first ivy league institution dedicated to providing a world-class education and raising the next generation of fearless leaders.

Dr. Herbert Wigwe is a visionary leader, philanthropist, and the founder of Wigwe University. In his professional life, he is the Group Chief Executive Officer of Access Holdings Plc (also known as “Access Corporation”), a multi-national financial services organization that offers commercial banking, lending, payment, pension, insurance, and asset management services.

Access Corporation is headquartered in Lagos, Nigeria and operates through a network of more than 600 branches and service outlets, spanning three continents, 18 countries, and 50+ million customers managed by over 28,000 employees.  Access Bank, the Corporation’s banking business, is one of Africa’s largest retail banks by customer base and total assets.

For eight years until May 2022, Dr. Wigwe led Access Bank Plc as its Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer through an extraordinary growth period. Some of the accolades accorded him include Banker of the Year, 2020 by Leadership Awards; African Banker of the Year, 2021 by African Banker Award; and Best Banking CEO, 2021 by Global Brands Magazine Awards.

A passionate advocate for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, Dr. Wigwe speaks frequently at business forums and conventions, strongly encouraging a global business commitment to the achievement of the Goals. In his role as Group Managing Director of Access Bank Plc, Dr. Wigwe was the first African sponsor of the United Nations Global Compact Initiative.

He is a Board member of Nigeria’s Business Coalition Against AIDS which leads major businesses in Nigeria in fighting HIV and AIDS at all levels of intervention within the health system and the private sector workforce.  Similarly, he advocates for the eradication of malaria in Africa, and is a partner of the Corporate Alliance on Malaria in Africa to achieve this objective.

Dr. Wigwe’s commitment to the development of Nigeria and Africa extends to numerous initiatives. At the onset of the COVID-19 global crisis, for example, Dr. Wigwe swiftly responded to Nigeria’s private and public healthcare’s inability to respond effectively by galvanizing support for and co-leading the formation of CACOVID (Coalition Against COVID-19) comprised of the Central Bank of Nigeria; major financial institutions in Nigeria; and key stakeholders in Nigeria’s private sector. Dr. Wigwe led the Coalition to support the Federal Government in mitigating the impact of the pandemic and reopening the economy.

Dr. Wigwe, Access Bank and UNICEF collaborate to support vulnerable children, orphans, and internationally displaced persons in the northern part of Nigeria. To raise awareness and funds for this purpose, the Bank organizes and hosts annual high-profile Access Bank/UNICEF Charity Shield Polo Tournaments in Nigeria, London, and South Africa.

In 2023, Dr. Wigwe embarked on a transformative journey by founding Wigwe University. With a vision to ignite Africa’s potential for prosperity and nurture fearless leaders who will change the course of history, he has introduced an institution that is set to rival top universities around the world. Wigwe University promises to elevate educational standards while creating a unique African experience. Dr. Wigwe believes that education is the key to unlocking Africa’s potential and through Wigwe University, he seeks to leave a legacy that will contribute immensely to the continent’s greatness.

His commitment to education is rooted in the belief that nurturing intellectual capital is pivotal for societal development. Dr. Wigwe envisions Wigwe University as a beacon of knowledge, innovation, and excellence, designed to empower future leaders and contribute to the socio-economic advancement of the continent. This endeavor represents his profound dedication to shaping a brighter future for Africa, making education the cornerstone of his enduring legacy.

In 2023, in recognition of exemplary service to his country, Dr. Wigwe was awarded the Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic – one of the nation’s top honours.

Dr. Wigwe is an alumnus of the Harvard Business School Executive Management Programme. He holds Honorary Doctorate degrees from the University of Port Harcourt, Gombe State University and University of Nigeria, Master’s Degrees in Law, Banking and International Finance, and Financial Economics from the University of London, University of North Wales and University of London, respectively.  He also holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

About Access Holdings Plc

Access Holdings Plc is a leading multinational financial services group that offers commercial banking, lending, payment, insurance, and asset management services. Headquartered in Lagos, Nigeria, Access Holdings operates through a network of more than 700 branches and service outlets, spanning three continents, 20 countries, and 60+ million customers.

Access transitioned into a holding company to drive rapid growth and become a full-scale ecosystem player offering interconnected services across customer needs. Established in 2022, Access Holdings Plc consists of the Access Bank Group; Access Pensions; a Payment and Switching Services Company; a Digital Lending Company, and an Insurance Brokerage Company. The banking vertical serves its various markets through four business segments: Retail, Business, Commercial and Corporate, and has enjoyed what is it arguably Africa’s most successful banking growth trajectory in the last eighteen years, becoming one of Africa’s largest retail banks by customer base and Sub-Saharan Africa’s largest bank by total assets.

Access Holdings strives to deliver sustainable economic growth that is profitable, environmentally responsible, and socially relevant, helping customers to access more and achieve their dreams.

President Tinubu Mourns Herbert Wigwe, Former Group Chairman of Nigerian Exchange Group, Abimbola Ogunbanjo and Family Members

After receiving an official confirmation of events, President Bola Tinubu receives with shock and deep distress the news of the passing of Mr. Herbert Wigwe, top banker and entrepreneur, and Mr. Abimbola Ogunbanjo, OFR, former Group Chairman of the Nigerian Exchange Group Plc, along with members of the Wigwe family.

Mr. Herbert Wigwe, CON, was the Chief Executive Officer of Access Holdings Plc and founder of the How Foundation.

President Tinubu mourns these exceptional Nigerian business leaders and describes their passing as “an overwhelming tragedy that is shocking beyond comprehension.”

The President condoles with the Wigwe and Ogunbanjo families, the business community, and all those impacted by this harrowing incident.

President Tinubu prays for the peaceful repose of the departed and asks God Almighty to comfort the multitude of Nigerians who are grieving and the families of the deceased at this deeply agonizing moment.

Sanwo-Olu Mourns Herbert Wigwe, Says Access boss king of visionary and disruptive ideas

Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has also mourned the passage of the CEO of Access Holdings, Herbert Wigwe, who died in a chopper crash with about five others in California, United States.

Governor Sanwo-Olu in a condolence message he signed and issued on Sunday, described Wigwe as the king of visionary and disruptive ideas, saying the death of the renowned banker and entrepreneur is a personal loss to him and a colossal loss to Lagos, Nigeria and the banking industry.

Sanwo-Olu who described Herbert Wigwe as “my brother, my friend and my adviser,” said “Herbert’s contributions to banking and the financial sector in Africa were unparalleled. He was an unapologetic believer in the Nigerian solution.”

Governor Sanwo-Olu said:  “I am deeply saddened by the tragic loss of my dear brother and friend, Dr. Herbert Wigwe, his dear wife Doreen, and their beloved son Chizi in a helicopter crash.

“Herbert was not just a brother and visionary leader but one of the brightest minds in Africa. His impact on our nation and beyond will be remembered forever. My heart mourns.

“Herbert’s contributions to banking and the financial sector in Africa were unparalleled. He was an unapologetic believer in the Nigerian solution. His dedication and passion for progress inspired us all. Today, we mourn not just a leader but a true friend and brother. Lagos and Nigeria have lost a remarkable soul. Rest in peace, my brother.

“We also lost another great business leader and legal luminary, my egbon Abimbola Ogunbanjo, former Group Chairman of Nigerian Exchange Group Plc, who contributed significantly to the development of the Capital Markets and Corporate law in Nigeria. May his soul rest in peace.

“In this difficult time, our thoughts are with the families of all the victims, and we pray for strength and grace.”

Oyebanji Mourns Access Holdings CEO, Herbert Wigwe

*Says Ekiti lost a friend, strategic partner, supporter

Ekiti State Governor, Mr. Biodun Oyebanji, has expressed condolences on the death of the Group Chief Executive Officer of Access Holdings Limited, Mr. Herbert Wigwe, who died in an helicopter crash in the United States of America on Friday.

Wigwe, 57, was reported to have died alongside his wife, son and three others in the chopper crash  around the California-Nevada border in the United States.

Governor Oyebanji in a statement on Sunday, signed by his Special Adviser on Media, Yinka Oyebode, described the death of Mr. Wigwe, his spouse and son as a monumental tragedy for Nigeria.

Governor Oyebanji described the late Wigwe as a great friend of Ekiti State and a strategic partner and supporter of the state’s development programme.

Oyebanji described the late Access Holdings  CEO  as a phenomenal philanthropist, who served humanity eminently with his time, talent and resources and would be remembered for the impact he made on the lives of the people as much as his notable contributions to the development of the nation’s financial sector.

He prayed God to grant the Wigwe family and the Access Holdings the equanimity to bear the loss and also grant the families of other victims of the crash the fortitude to bear the huge loss of their loved ones.

The Governor said Mr. Wigwe made lasting and unforgettable impact during his earthly sojourn,  urging all his proteges to build on his legacies of service and innovativeness as a way to immortalize him.

“It is indeed a sad and devastating news, a tragedy of immense proportion not only to the Wigwe family and the Access Holdings which he headed, but to us in Ekiti State, where he was regarded as a great friend and supporter of our development programme;  and Nigeria where he was a shinning star and an icon in the financial sector.


“Our hearts and prayers are with the Wigwe family and to the families of the late Abimbola  Ogunbanjo and others who died  in the ill fated flight. We pray that the Lord will comfort the entire families, much more than words can.”, the statement added.

*Fubara mourns Herbert Wigwe, urges bereaved family to take solace in God 

Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara was not left out in expressing shock and sadness at the news of the demise of Dr. Herbert Wigwe, his wife Chizoba, son and others in a helicopter crash in California near the Nevada border, USA, describing the incident as a monumental disaster.

Governor Fubara, on behalf of his family, the State Government and people of Rivers State commiserates with the Wigwe family over this unfortunate incident, urging them to be comforted by God’s assurances of His love and outpouring of global sympathy on this deep pain and loss.


ln a press statement signed Boniface Onyedi,SSA Media to the Governor quotes  the Governor as saying that there are no words to convey how terrible these loses are, and the state and indeed Nigeria will miss an unassuming, iconic and accomplished illustrious son of Isiokpo in Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State.

Rivers State and the Nation are in tears because it would be extremely difficult to understand this sweeping loss of a family involving a strong pillar, accomplished banker and philanthropist with tentacles in the education sector”, the Governor said, noting that the prestigious Wigwe University which he pioneered must not be allowed to die.

Dr. Herbert Wigwe rose to become one of the most outstanding African financial sector leaders and global figure who superintended over the impressive growth of the Access Bank Group, and also established the Wigwe University in Isiokpo, the headquarters of Ikwerre Local Government Area with a 60% local and 40% expatriate faculty population.








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